Watch CBS News

Coronavirus Means 'Back To The Basics Of Public Health,' Says U Of M's Dr. Michael Osterholm

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- An Amazon employee in Washington state has tested positive for the coronavirus.

"We're supporting the affected employee who is in quarantine," an Amazon spokesperson said.

That's the latest news out of the northwest as the number of deaths in the United States has climbed to nine. Minnesota is now capable of testing 800 patients. Eight Minnesotans tested for the virus by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention so far have been negative.

The virus is now being looked at by experts at a few facilities around the country. But is a vaccine viable?

The coronavirus is expected to reach every corner of the country. Researchers at the Center for Vaccine Research at the University of Pittsburgh received the virus in vials. The expectation is to grow the coronavirus and see if they can develop a vaccine.

The Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota says it isn't the answer to the current outbreak.

"You can make a vaccine against anything overnight. The challenge is does it work and is it safe," Dr. Michael Osterholm said.

Osterholm explained there's several steps to create a vaccine -- from understanding how immunity will work to conducting several safety studies before exposing vaccinated people to the virus.

"This is a long laborious process that can sometimes take many years, even under the best of conditions," Osterholm said.

A vaccine may protect people down the road, but we're in the here and now.

"We're really back to the basics of public health," Osterholm said.

That means to stay home if you're sick and cover your cough. And in the larger sense, we need to support healthcare professionals with protective equipment and work with critical businesses to keep the lights on.

"We just can't shut down the world. So our job is going to be in the face of this coronavirus problem of making sure we also provide for the basic necessities for everyone until we get through," Osterholm said.

Osterholm suggests developing a family communication network so you know who will talk to who if someone gets sick.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.